Wow – did we ever need that one! The Rangers had a huge bounce back game tonight at Madison Square Garden – blanking their hated rivals the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 behind a tremendous performance by Cam Talbot in goal. And he was all that was in the Ranger goal because no Flyer shots got past him.
The Rangers were just the better team tonight in downing a Philadelphia team that has not won a game on Ranger home ice since 2011. The interesting thing is that Steve Mason, the Flyer goaltender – was amazing – collecting 32 saves – including several spectacular ones and was probably the best goaltender on the ice tonight. Our heroes could have easy scored 4 or 5 goals tonight if not for Mason’s steady hand in the opposing net.
In the 5th minute of the first period, Derek Brassard did some great work keeping the puck alive behind the Flyer net. Then Carl Hagelin took over – whipping the puck from behind the end line to Kevin Klein who was darting towards the net. Klein, who leads Ranger defensemen in scoring, snapped the puck past Mason who never had a chance, to give the Rangers the 1-0 lead.
In the second, it was the Rangers on the powerplay that produced goal number two. A great Stepan pass to Marty St. Louis – who had a great opportunity in close to Mason’s left. But St. Louis, instead of shooting, zipped a perfect pass across the ice to Rick Nash – who had the puck on his stick and the entire net to shoot at. Nash notched his 13th goal of the season and the Rangers had their two goal lead.
And it held up. The Flyers kept mounting pressure in the third – but the Rangers defended well and Cam Talbot saved them all.
I also want to mention one of the several great sequences by St. Louis, With a melee in front of the Ranger net – Marty slid in to the crease to cover for and out-of-position Talbot and then calmly sticked the puck out of the Ranger crease and out of danger.
The win stopped the bleeding for a Ranger team that seemed to be reeling as of late. And if Cam Talbot can keep this up it will be a huge advantage for the Rangers. If you remember last year – it was Cam who got us through Hank’s slump and gave the King the rest he needs to be in top form come playoff time.
Did Special teams decide this game? (Editor – are you asking me?) (Dave Pucks – no it’s a literary device – and also a recurring feature in the blog) (Editor – like me?) (Dave Pucks – no – not like you – this device works). Anyway – yes special teams decided this game. The Ranger special teams got a goal on four attempts – and I’ve got to say Dan Boyle makes us looks so much more organized when we have the extra skater. You can see him talking out there - and directing traffic as he tries to get his fellow Rangers in the right positions. And as his hand heals and the rust fades – I think we’ll see even more from Boyle – good acquisition by Sather. (Editor – isn’t this supposed to be about special teams?) (Dave Pucks – okay – I’ll get back to that). On the Penalty Kill the Rangers were a perfect 4-4 and that was the difference tonight.
So a good game all around for our Rangers – who will face the Flyers 2 more times in the next 11 days. It was great to rest Hank – it was great to get Cam the shutout – and it was great to win a hockey game – and in regulation no less.
Maybe this gets us started. Pucks out.